If area ski resorts seem less packed this winter, it’s because they’re taking steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, such as social distancing and selling tickets online rather than in person.
“Our biggest change this winter from previous years is selling all of our day tickets online and making them date-specific to control the numbers of guests,” said Gary Kline, marketing and guest experiences director at Bear Creek Ski Resort in Berks County.
“We’re also not encouraging guests to camp out in our lodge,” Kline said. “We’re asking them to leave their belongings in their vehicles instead of in the lodge and to use the facility only for quick bites and warm-up breaks. We want them to head back in the great outdoors, where it’s safest.”
Bear Creek has also moved its refreshments and seating outdoors, with signs telling guests to wear masks and social distance.
“Skiing already lends itself to physical distancing,” Kline said. “When you’re out on the slopes, there’s a lot of space between you and the next skier. In addition, we’re not going to make anyone ride a ski lift with someone they don’t know. You stay with the party you came with. If you came by yourself, you stay by yourself.”
Camelback Resort in Monroe County likewise is requiring guests to buy advanced tickets and passes online or through the resort’s new app, spokesperson Kristi Turek said. Guests must complete ski rentals and signed waivers online to minimize in-person contact.
Along with requiring everyone to wear masks and stay with their parties, Camelback will be sanitizing ski lifts and snow tubes between guest use and making sanitizing stations available at the bottom of the lifts.
The resort is also adding food trucks to allow for more outdoor physical distancing on its slopes, at its snow tubing park and outside its lodge, as well as a beer garden.
“As a result of the new protocols and dining concepts, the resort is hiring 800 employees for the winter season,” spokesperson Marguarite Clark said. “These include food, beverage and culinary positions, snow sports instructors, attendants and housekeeping staff.”
The cooperation of employees and guests is key in practicing these safety measures, Kline said.
“We’ll be at reduced capacity with smaller numbers of guests at any given time,” he said. “Of course, that’s going to have a financial impact, but finances are secondary. Safety is primary.”
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